The punch line might not be clear.
But Tennessee understands the premise and the target, and it clearly isn't pleased.
Copies of a joke Memphis coach Tommy West told at a preseason banquet about Vols coach Lane Kiffin have been plastered around the locker room and the practice field since Monday. And though the story might not make too much sense or be all that funny, the Vols have made clear they're offended heading into Saturday's home game.
West's joke was the subject of a column by Geoff Calkins of the Commercial Appeal on Aug. 15.
"Those comments really didn't sit well with me, just for the fact that's my head coach and because of everything he's done for us," safety Eric Berry said. "Coming in here to roll with us, keeping all the promises to us that he's made, how hard he works for us and all he's going to do for us, I just took it as a low blow. He (West) hasn't even sat down and talked with my head coach, I don't believe, and I don't even get the joke he tried to make.
"I just really felt bad about that for him to not even know Coach Kiffin and not even know what he stands for with his players. Anybody that plays for him would see the type of coach he is, and I think a lot of the guys on this team are just going to take that a little personal that they took that shot at our coach. We're just going to go out there, and really it'll be a physical game."
Certainly there was a chance the Vols (4-4) might have overlooked this game after a brutal stretch of games in the conference last month, but the instate rivals have their attention now after West's unusual story about Kiffin selling a lying dog.
The Tigers (2-6, 1-4 C-USA) haven't had much to boast about this season and the quotes from West are old at this point, but they'll surely be reminded about them at Neyland Stadium.
"I feel like we're all a family here and (Kiffin) backs us up on a lot of things," running back Montario Hardesty said. "We're definitely a little upset about it as a family, and now we're just going to go out there on Saturday night and take care of business for coach. For us, I think the main thing was it was somebody taking a shot at somebody in our family - the head man in our family.
"Coming into the week our biggest motivation was we'd been playing good the last couple games and we wanted to come out and practice as hard as we had been. But seeing that quote, hearing a guy chattering about (Kiffin), I think it gave us a little more motivation to go out there this week. We always say it's about us and not about them, but I think that helped us on the practice field go out and get better this week."
Bulletin-board material is usually designed to do just that, and the Vols haven't had to resort to ploys like that much this season.
Kiffin also haven't been all that shy about providing some for opponents, but that's a big part of the reason UT has rallied behind him since he arrived.
"I don't think coach is worried about it, but to me, I really didn't like the fact he would say that," Berry said. "I think that did help us, that little comment. I hate that he said it, but I think it did kind of wake us up.
"It's like, 'Man, that's our coach he's talking about.' He's the guy that stands up for us, this is a guy that basically came in talking smack for us to say that he had our back, so we're going to ride with him until the wheels fall off. That's our guy, and we're going to fight for him just like he fights for us."
That doesn't mean trading punches for punch lines. But the intensity has been dialed up by the Vols.
Bumps and Bruises: Gerald Williams will be a game-time decision at defensive end, but everybody else nursing minor injuries appears ready to play.
"It's good to have most of our guys healthy, and we'll find out about (kicker Daniel) Lincoln in warmups," Kiffin said. "He kicked the ball (Wednesday) and seemed to be all right, and this will be a game where we'll need everybody on deck."
To read the column by Geoff Calkins go toThe Commercial Appeal.